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Don’t Forget to Live

Goethe and the Tradition of Spiritual Exercises

Translated by Michael Chase
With a Foreword by Arnold I. Davidson and Daniele Lorenzini

The esteemed French philosopher Pierre Hadot’s final work, now available in English.
With a foreword by Arnold I. Davidson and Daniele Lorenzini.

In his final book, renowned philosopher Pierre Hadot explores Goethe’s relationship with ancient spiritual exercises—transformative acts of intellect, imagination, or will. Goethe sought both an intense experience of the present moment as well as a kind of cosmic consciousness, both of which are rooted in ancient philosophical practices. These practices shaped Goethe’s audacious contrast to the traditional maxim memento mori (Don’t forget that you will die) with the aim of transforming our ordinary consciousness. Ultimately, Hadot reveals how Goethe cultivated a deep love for life that brings to the forefront a new maxim: Don’t forget to live.

200 pages | 7 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2023

The France Chicago Collection

Literature and Literary Criticism: Germanic Languages

Philosophy: Ethics, General Philosophy


“To read Pierre Hadot sparks enormous joy.”

Charlie Hebdo, on the French edition

“No one is more qualified to describe this spiritual line of descent than Pierre Hadot”

Le Figaro, on the French edition

“A very beautiful book that celebrates action, the duty to serve, and joy.”

Valeurs Actuelles, on the French edition

“This deeply personal work, by one of the greatest of French classical philosophers, featuring one of his major inspirations, the great German author and philosopher Goethe, excellently translated by Michael Chase, might just change your life. It is the culmination of Hadot’s long-term concern with ‘philosophy as a way of life,’ and constitutes a significant expansion and deepening of this theme.”

John Dillon, Trinity College Dublin

“Renowned for reviving the classical idea of philosophy as an art of living, Pierre Hadot combines his expertise in Greco-Roman thought with an extensive study of Goethe to produce a fascinating book, rich in both erudition and relevance for the conduct of life—reinterpreting, with compelling nuance and philosophical sophistication, the deeper, more mindful meaning of the Horatian maxim carpe diem. What you learn from this book can change your life.”

Richard Shusterman, Florida Atlantic University

Table of Contents

Translator’s Introduction
1. “The Present Is the Only Goddess I Adore”
   Faust and Helen
   The Present, the Trivial, and the Ideal
   Idyllic Arcadia
   Unconscious Health or Conquered Serenity?
   The Philosophical Experience of the Present
   The Tradition of Ancient Philosophy in Goethe
   The Present, the Instant, and Being-There in Goethe
2. The View from Above and the Cosmic Journey
   The Instant and the View from Above
   The View from Above in Antiquity: Peaks and Flight of the Imagination
   The Philosophical Meaning of the View from Above among Ancient Philosophers
   The Medieval and Modern Tradition
   The Various Forms of the View from Above in Goethe
   The View from Above after Goethe
   Aeronauts and Cosmonauts
3. The Wings of Hope: The Urworte
   Daimôn, Tukhê
   Daimôn, Tukhê, Eros, Anankê, and Elpis
   Human Destiny
   Autobiographical Aspects?
   The Caduceus
   Elpis, Hope
4. The Yes to Life and the World
   Great Is the Joy of Being-There (Freude des Daseins)
   Greater Still Is the Joy One Feels in Existence Itself (Freude am Dasein)
   The Yes to Becoming and the Terrifying
   Goethe and Nietzsche
Translator’s Note

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